Eskom crisis is a national calamity , says Cape Chamber of Commerce
JOHANNESBURG - The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday called ongoing nationwide rolling blackouts as power company Eskom grapples with equipment breakdowns a national calamity, demanding swift action and calling all talents to come to the rescue of the beleaguered utility.
Eskom was forced to apologise this week after abruptly implementing Stage 6 load shedding on Monday -- which entails throttling up to 6,000 MW of demand at any given time -- an unprecedented move it said was necessary to avoid a collapse of the grid after a high rate of generating unit breakdowns. On Wednesday Eskom downscaled the level of rotational powercuts to Stage 2, or 2,000 MW, saying capacity remained constrained.
Eskom supplies about 95 percent of South Africa's electricity needs, most of it coal fired.
President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry Geoff Jacobs said South Africa was blessed with the skills needed to fix the state-owned company's problems.
"Politicians and trade unionists need to get out of the way and allow those who can, to clean up the shambles," he said.
“We have been tip-toeing around the Eskom calamity. We have had plenty of explanations but little concrete action. If the Eskom cure means early retirement for thousands of unnecessary Eskom employees, so be it. If it means scrapping suppliers of off-spec coal, let’s do that too."
"If it means giving the Western Cape government and the city of Cape Town the power to buy electricity from suppliers other than from unreliable Eskom, let’s change the law and regulations that block it," he added.
The the Western Cape province was in the midst of the fruit season, a crucial source of export earnings, and the sector depended on a regular electricity supply, Jacobs said, also suggesting the electricity crisis was keeping foreign tourists away.
"Here in the Western Cape the expected influx of tourists for the season shows no signs of arriving. Clearly, foreigners too know what a mess we are in,” he said.
"Eskom must now be forced to compete for customers like any other supplier of a service. Its monopoly is the root of the problem. Let the Western (Cape) province government now develop its liquefied natural gas project which has been stalled for years."
"Clear away the regulatory rubble in the way. Let it build the necessary infrastructure, raise its own loans, partner with the private sector and show Eskom how it’s done,” Jacobs added.